This Week in Seabee History (Week of April 17)

Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

During World War II, Rear Adm. R.O. Glover, commander 7th Fleet Forces, awards a Navy Silver Star to Motor Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Malcolm A. Peppo, who was assigned to the 113th Naval Construction Battalion. MoMM3 Peppo was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry in action against the enemy. On December 15, 1944, during the D-Day landings at Mindoro, Philippines, one of the landing ships (LST 472) was struck by a Japanese kamikaze pilot, killing five men and wounding seven others. Peppo and several men who were aboard LST 71 asked the ship’s officer for permission to go topside and pass ammunition to the gunners. A second kamikaze dived at LST 71, but Peppo, who had now taken over for one of the gunners, shot it down when it was only 50 feet away. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

April 17

1968: Part of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 71 arrived in Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

April 18

1969: NMCB 4 main body departed Port Hueneme, California and arrived at Da Nang, RVN.

1972: The last Seabee Team site in Vietnam was closed down by Seabee Team 0321. The team’s employment at Ham Tan, Binh Tuy Province was shortened to four months by an accelerated phasedown schedule.

April 20

1946: 301st Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated on Guam.

1970: NMCB 3 advance party returned to the continental United States (CONUS) via commercial aircraft.

1971: NMCB 5 formally relieved NMCB 74 in Vietnam.

April 21

1945: ACORN 50 was decommissioned and Naval Air Base Kobler was commissioned. Used during World War II, an ACORN was a tailored unit designed to carry out the rapid construction and subsequent operation of a landplane and seaplane advance base. Each ACORN had a construction battalion attached to it, as well as trained personnel to operate the control tower, field lighting, aerological unit, transportation, medical, berthing, and messing facilities. A Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) also accompanied each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn. During the war, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island, and Majuro.

1966: A Naval Support Unit of Seabees was established in the Department of State. This assignment came about in 1964, because cleverly concealed microphones and listening devices were discovered in the United States embassy in Moscow. As a result of this discovery, Seabees were sent to the newly built U.S. embassy in Warsaw. They proceeded to tear up floors and walls, and there too discovered ingeniously hidden microphones and listening devices. Consequently, the Department of State decided to use Seabees to keep an eye on foreign contract construction at American diplomatic missions in Soviet-bloc countries and also to perform maintenance duties and minor repair construction. The program was later extended to American diplomatic missions in the Far East and in Africa. These informal arrangements were made more permanent with the organization of the Department of State Naval Support Unit.

1969: Cmdr. R.D. Gaulden, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), commanding officer of NMCB 4, relieved Cmdr. J.J. Lee, CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 12 at Camp Adenir, Da Nang, RVN.

1971: NMCB 3 main body flights, consisting of three passenger flights and one cargo flight, departed Da Nang, RVN for Port Hueneme, California.

April 22

1943: 91st NCB established at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1971: Cmdr. Henry E. Keppel, Jr., CEC, commanding officer of Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 302, relieved Cmdr. J.D. Kirkpatrick, CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 74, as camp commander of Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Bien Hoa, RVN; main body of NMCB 71 returned to Davisville, Rhode Island from deployment to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.

April 23

1971: The flag of NMCB 3 was relocated from Camp Haskins South, Da Nang, RVN to CBC, Port Hueneme, California.

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